Peace & Justice Blog

Stay up to date on peace and justice issues, both locally and internationally, and learn how you can take action.


 

Addressing the Climate Crisis through Laudato Si’ Action Platform: How can you help?

Invitations from the Eco-Justice Committee:

If you are interested in joining the Eco-Justice Committee, you are invited to contact Judy Hardy at jhardy2@insight.rr.com

Last Monday (June 28th), some suggestions for addressing Goal 5: Ecological Education (re-think and re-design educational curricula and educational institution reform in the spirit of integral ecology to create ecological awareness and action, promoting the ecological vocation of young people, teachers and leaders of education, etc.)

You are invited to share other suggestions for addressing this goal. You can include them below or send them to Judy Hardy at jhardy2@insight.rr.com

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Integrity – Not for Sale

Blog by Justice Promoter Sister Judy Morris, OP

Integrity:  The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.

 

President John F. Kennedy once said, “There is a reason Profiles in Courage is only one volume.”  How true!  The Profiles in Courage award is given every year to persons in leadership roles who take risks, show courage, abandon partisan actions, and speak the truth to power.  President Gerald Ford received the award years after pardoning Richard Nixon.  Some objected to this decision, and yet President Ford made the decision believing the nation needed to heal, and having a long, drawn-out trial would work against healing.  He believed he would not be elected because of that decision and was right.  John McCain received the award in 1999 for his work on campaign finance reform, while most leadership in his party objected.

In the 1960s, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.  After signing these bills, he remarked, “There goes the South.”  He believed the Democratic party would lose the majority in the south because of his support of civil rights.  He was right.  Since that time, the south has been the strongest voting block for the Republican party.

Congresswoman Liz Cheney has drawn the attention of the media and both political parties.  She has shown courage by putting fidelity to the constitution over party loyalty and partisan politics.  She voted twice to impeach former President Trump, for a long list of violations against the constitution and using an abuse of power.  She has agreed to serve on the January 6th committee in the house.  She clearly stated this was a violent attempted coup on the United States government, ignoring the will of the voting public.  She has paid a price for these decisions, being censured by her party and removed from her leadership position among House Republicans and she will face a strong backlash from Republican leadership when she runs for reelection.

I disagree with 90% of Liz Cheney’s positions of critical issues in congress, but I greatly admire her integrity and honesty, and believe she models “profile in courage.”  She cannot be bullied or bought.  This is what we need in our political arena, regardless of our political persuasion, or stand on any issue.  We need principled people to come down on the side of honest decision-making.

As we celebrated Independence Day earlier this week, it is important to reflect on leaders whose courage and integrity brought us through unimaginable crises, from a civil war to 9/11 to the signing of legislation that will bring freedom to many.

This is a good time to thank those in political leadership and church leadership who face loss of position, ridicule, or support.  These are the true patriots.

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Serving at the Border, May 29-June 11, 2021

Blog by Sister Rose Marie Cummins, OP

Sister Appoline Simard and I were invited by Annunciation House to come and work with migrants on the border in late May.  You will be able to get a more detailed “picture” of our time there when you click here to view a visual presentation about our trip. Click here to view or print the presentation.

The purpose of this blog is to relate a little about our experience there and to share with you some of our questions and learnings.

Ap and I arrived on the morning of May 29.  We learned we would be working at Annunciation House’s largest shelter, Casa del Refugiado, an old metal warehouse about the size of a Costco building (125,000 square feet).  This building had a capacity for serving 500 people.  We attended a day-long orientation with Ruben Garcia, founder, and director of Annunciation House since 1978; with volunteers from the different sections (intake, dormitory, dining area, clothing shop, office, and dispensary) color-coded to help migrants and volunteers alike make their way around such a large building.

Our specific assignment was to work in the Clothing shop, helping to make sure every member of every family had a change of clothing (shoes, underwear, socks, shirts or blouses or tees, pants, dresses) for their journeys by bus or plane.  Migrants were at Casa del Refugiado for only one to three days before moving on to the next part of their transition to America.

Volunteers did many other jobs: mopped floors, served migrants in the dining room, cleaned bathrooms, did intake, made sure migrants had towels, sheets, blankets, and cots to sleep on, dispensed needed medications, contacted migrants’ sponsors, prepared sandwiches for migrants traveling to their sponsors, did laundry and took migrants to the airport.

“No human is illegal”

Ap and I lived at Casa del Refugiado, and we learned so much while we were there.  Contrary to what we had believed before arriving, our job was not to form relationships with migrants, not to exchange names and addresses, not to be asking migrants about their stories, but to help them take the next step in moving on to the next phase of their lives.  We felt both insignificant and significant—a spoke in the wheel of this large effort.

We learned other things as well:  that migrants were coming from Haiti, Guatemala, El Salvador, Venezuela, Turkey, Honduras, Cuba, and other countries; that all were seeking political asylum in this country; that their trips were arduous; that the migrants were courageous, tenacious, hopeful. Above all, every person was grateful to be where there was enough food, where there was no more trekking through a merciless desert, and out of detention.

These are some of the questions we came away with:

  • Artwork in the shelters are meant to help newcomers feel welcome.

    Would the majority of these families and individuals get settled here, then, eventually, be denied asylum and returned to the terror and poverty that has been part of their entire lives?

  • Are there enough asylum judges to hear their cases?
  • Why, after peace accords were signed in the 90s, are Guatemalans and Salvadorans still fleeing their countries in record numbers?
  • What part does US foreign policy that includes support of dictators and governments with money and arms, play in the continued violence in these countries?
  • Do we understand how our carbon footprint, our belief that we are entitled to the world’s resources affect how other people are forced to live?

These are questions of justice that we must keep asking.

Upon arriving home, Ap and I decided that we were both happy to have been part of this wonderful effort to help migrants reunite with families and friends.  We were sustained by the migrants’ beauty and the beauty in the desert around us.

               

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Laudato Si’ Action Platform: a 7-year global Catholic Addressing the Climate Crisis

Blog by Sr. Jane Belanger

Sr. Jane Belanger  of the Eco-Justice Committee looks at Goal 5 and provides some suggestions about how to address this goal

Goal 5: Ecological Education (re-think and re-design educational curricula and educational institution reform in the spirit of integral ecology to create ecological awareness and action, promoting the ecological vocation of young people, teachers and leaders of education, etc.)

Suggestions for addressing this goal:

While our specific educational institutions need to be accountable to this goal within their own academic settings, as a Congregation we have many opportunities to educate in non-academic settings.

Communications/Media:  In both our internal and external Congregational communications include and develop ongoing integral ecological education of Sisters and Associates as well as the general public.

  • Publish recommended media resources
  •  Sponsor and/or partner with local groups promoting ecological education and change
  •  Make ecological education part of the formation process of Sisters and Associates.

Our Ecology Centers:  Continue to foster and support the ecological programming and modeling efforts of our Eco-Centers/Farm. Through:

  • Support the hiring of qualified personnel and the means to promote their missions
  • Engage Centers in sharing their expertise especially with youth and young  people through mentoring, internships, and volunteer  opportunities
  • Continue to offer our Ecology Centers to support ecological education for local parishes, schools, 4-H, community centers, etc.

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Choosing Unity Over Division

Blog by Justice Promoter Sister Judy Morris, OP

In a deeply divided church and country, most of us long for voices that can bring us together, working for unity and understanding.  Is it possible to have a discussion with someone who has a different opinion and not view the result as “winning or losing?”

Our current church drama involves the United States bishops moving toward approval of a document that would deny communion to President Biden and any Catholic politicians who are pro-choice.  Most Bishops favored moving the document forward.  This brings up a familiar question, “What would Jesus do?”  For anyone who reads the Gospels, I think the answer is clear; he comes down on the side of unity, compassion, and non-judgmental attitudes.

Bishop Stowe of Lexington provides comments that are relevant here:

“There are at least three places in the Gospels that involve people thinking they know what is best for Jesus.

When they try to prevent children from coming to him, Jesus rebukes his disciples as he does, he reminds them the kingdom of heaven belongs to those they would turn away.

When confronted about the woman caught in adultery, Jesus stops the mob by reminding them of their own sins. We bishops have a wealth of material to offer in that department.

And in the garden, Jesus rebukes Peter himself for using violence in protecting him. Jesus does not need our protection for him to carry out his saving mission.

There is a reason the long-standing pastoral practice of the Church is to presume people present themselves for Communion in good conscience.  We should reverence the mystery of God’s grace at work in every person, and the gift of faith present in every heart that seeks him in the sacrament.

Jesus is not a legalist.  He seeks to draw people to himself.  His arms outstretched on the cross and in the sacraments are where the saving occurs.”

When Pope Francis spoke of communion, he said, “It is not the reward of saints, but the bread of sinners.”  We say, “Lord, I am not worthy.”  When I stand in line for communion, I stand in line as a sinner.  What the bishops are doing by denying Communion on political grounds is disturbing because it models judgment, a lack of striving for unity and failure to hear Jesus saying, “that they all may be one.”

We find a sacrament being weaponized and politicized. For a moment, pretend that all 46 presidents were Catholic.  Looking at their actions, decisions, and words, would any of them pass the test and be deserving of communion?  We have had several slaveholders, adulterers, pathological liars, and those who approved dropping the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, going to war in Iraq. Many have, through their political actions, cost hundreds of thousands of lives around the world.

If we treat the Gospels as a roadmap for living, the path to unity is clear.  Leading compassionate, nonjudgmental lives is hard work, but possible when we recognize that we all have feet of clay; and when we fall, continue to get up.

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog